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An apartment with a view of Brooklyn. A project by a Polish-Korean duo

22 of November '23
Technical data
Name: Bay Ridge apartment
Investor: private
Location: USA, New York.
Design team: Sulgi Cho (lead designer), Piotr Panczyk
Photos: Sulgi Cho, Piotr Panczyk
Area: 33m2
Design and implementation: 2023

Sulgi Cho and Piotr Pańczyk designed the interior of a small apartment in a more than 100-year-old building in New York's Bay Ridge neighborhood. The architects' challenge was an extensive renovation to adapt the interior of the studio to modern needs, while preserving its distinctive atmosphere. Read what the authors themselves say about the work and implementation.

Small but effective changes to the plan allowed us to enlarge the vestibule, improve the functional layout of the kitchen and better separate it from the living area, as well as separate a full-fledged bedroom area in the open plan of the studio. On the other hand, the age of the building translated into numerous surprises discovered in the course of the work," the architects explain about the design work.

Rzut mieszkania w Nowym Jorku

projection of an apartment in New York

© Sulgi Cho, Piotr Pańczyk

The interior is characterized by minimalism and functional solutions, creating an open and simple space. The accents here are glass elements—from the fluted glass partition wall to the furniture.

Widok z okna na Brooklyn

The view from the apartment's window over Brooklyn

© Sulgi Cho, Piotr Pańczyk

A sizable bay window with a preserved ornate frame opens the view of the neighborhood and defines the space of the living area. The architects matched its shape with a sofa upholstered with bouclé fabric. It is accompanied by a coffee table and a fleshy curtain and hung from a custom-made ceiling rail.

Przesuwne drzwi z mrożonego szkła Duże okno wykuszowe kształtuje przestrzeń salonu

The sofa fits in the bay window

© Sulgi Cho, Piotr Pańczyk

A glass partition wall separates the bedroom from the living area, guaranteeing daylight and privacy. The beds, placed on either side, provide a place to work and also serve as bedside tables. Thanks to the efforts of designers and contractors, the original wooden floor was preserved.

Stylized sliding doors, symmetrically placed on opposite sides of the living room, lead to the kitchen and bathroom. Both rooms were kept in muted, light colors with contrasting black elements and terrazzo flooring.

Drugą lokatorką mieszkania jest kotka Kuchnia

The bachelor apartment's resident is also a cat

© Sulgi Cho, Piotr Pańczyk

interview with Sulgi Cho and Piotr Pańczyk

Dobrawa: We are talking about a small New York apartment that you designed as a Korean-Polish duo. Did your cultural background influence the design? What did you "take" from Asia and what from Europe?

Sulgi Choi and Piotr Pańczyk: Definitely! The interweaving of inspirations taken from Asia, Europe (but also America itself, where the apartment is located) is basically the theme of the project. Due to the high population density in major metropolises, small apartments are quite common in Asia, and we looked up to many ingenious solutions there to save space without compromising usability. From Europe, we tried to transfer clean, minimalist details, which translated into bright and simple interiors. This inspiration can also be seen in the decoration—for example, the sliding frosted glass door is a loose reference to traditional Korean changhoji paper doors.

Dobrawa: What requirements did the investor approach you with? Did she have any suggestions or hints as to what she definitely didn't want?

Sulgi and Piotr: The owner of the apartment wanted to use a lot of glass, which she is passionate about—she herself is involved in creating stained glass as a hobby. A place for different types and forms of glass was therefore found in the partition wall, which is the focal point of the apartment, the sliding doors and the furniture. It was also important to include space in the design for the adorable cat that shares the apartment with the owner.

Mała, funkcjonalna łazienka Zmiany planu mieszkania pozwoliły na powiększenie przedsionka

terazzo flooring in the bathroom and hallway

© Piotr Pańczyk, Sulgi Cho

Dobrawa: The project involved a major renovation. What did you encounter during the work? Did you have to change the project in the course of implementation?

Sulgi and Piotr: There were quite a few surprises hidden in the walls. We were actually in constant contact with the contractor to solve the problems encountered on an ongoing basis. Not all installations were able to be adapted to the original design, but the effect probably ultimately benefited from it—for example, the aged wiring, which we couldn't move, forced us to suspend the ceiling over the entrance area, which subtly separated it visually from the kitchen and emphasized the moment of entering the actual part of the apartment from the lower vestibule. It was also an interesting experience to have to work with the steam heating while moving the radiator—this unusual system is common in older buildings in New York and requires a specialized approach due to the enormous pressure and temperatures.

Dobrawa: What was the biggest challenge, and what are you most proud of?

Sulgi and Peter: The biggest challenge was definitely keeping the budget in check. Funds for the renovation were relatively modest, and as you can easily guess, the prices of construction services in New York are huge and any unplanned change or delay translates into a spike in costs. It was also a long struggle to save the original, nearly 100-year-old wooden floor in the living room, which was finally successful.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.

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